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‘Marfa Girl’ tops Rome fest

Larry Clark's Texas pic wins Golden Marc'Aurelio; Franco wins for 'Summer'

ROMEU.S. helmer Larry Clark’s “Marfa Girl,” a naturalistic depiction of teens smoking pot and having sex in torpid Texas, won the Golden Marc’Aurelio for film at the Rome Film Festival, which wrapped on Saturday.

Clark will self-release his latest portrayal of adolescent sensuality, which comes seven years after “Kids,” exclusively via larryclark.com on Nov. 20, to “cut out crooked Hollywood distributors,” he said.

The Rome jury, headed by American director Jeff Nichols (“Mud”), awarded the director nod to Italian Paolo Franchi for his steamy drama “E la chiamano estate” (“And They Call It Summer”) about 40-somethings with sexual problems.

“Summer,” produced by Elizabetta Mantovani, Luciano Pavarotti’s widow, also scooped the actress nod for Italo thesp Isabella Ferrari.

Franchi’s pic did not sit well with the local press who heckled Ferrari with cries of “shame!” at the closing ceremony. She thanked the jury on stage with tears in her eyes.

American producer-turned-director brothers Gabe and Alan Polsky’s debut, “The Motel Life,” about two brothers, played by Emile Hirsh and Stephen Dorff, scored a triple win by scooping the fest’s Audience Award, the screenplay nod, and the non-official A.M.C prize for editing.

Italo teen crime-immigration drama “Ali ha gli occhi blu” (Ali Has Blue Eyes), by sophomore helmer Claudio Giovannesi, took the Special Jury Prize and Rome’s nod for best first or second film. Pic turns on a youth whose Muslim parents make it hard for him to live an Italian life.

French thesp Jeremie Elkaim won for actor for his role as a skateboarding and dance nut in eclectic musical romance “Hand in Hand,” Valerie Donzelli’s followup to “Declaration of War.”

Rome’s seventh edition was the first headed by former Venice topper Marco Mueller who came under fire from local press for attracting less star power to the event, which sold 15% fewer tickets than last year.

However, he boosted the fest’s foreign press presence and international profile.

At the closing press conference Mueller, who had five months to assemble this year’s edition, vowed to do better next year with more time to build Rome’s slate.

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